Posh, pink and very serious

The rosé wine revolution is continuing apace and this summer sees more space than ever on the shelves of supermarkets stacked up with various shades of pale salmon pink bottles. In fact, it is now extremely difficult to find a traditional style rosé as almost all of Portugal’s producers have now given in to the pressures of consumer demand and paled down their pinks.

The results here in Portugal have often been disappointing with dozens of well-known producers now making indistinguishable and rather bland rosés.

These wines are fine for chilling down to near-freezing temperature and quaffing by the pool on a hot day, but they are most certainly not food wines. Of course there are exceptions, most of which I have written about here, but in general, if we are looking for serious rosé, we need to increase our budget and concentrate on the selection of Provence wines.

The good stuff, such as Whispering Angel, starts at around €20 and at Apolónia supermarket, where they have a huge selection of posh pink, it is possible to scale the heights of rosé wine. At the top of the pile is Garrus, costing close to €100, but at half this price and less there are other truly remarkable wines.

It took me a while to get my head around paying the sort of money for a bottle of rosé wine that I would, for a special occasion, spend on a bottle of pink Champagne, but the reality is that any Champagne is only as good as the base wine itself and some of the better Provence rosés are very serious wines indeed.

Just recently I enjoyed a bottle of this 946 rosé, priced at €41.95 in Apolónia, and it is without a doubt one of the very best I have tried. This is the premium quality rosé from Château Gassier, a small Provence producer dedicated almost entirely to rosé (they also produce a premium white wine under the 946 label).

The name, 946, related to the altitude of the vineyard in metres. Made from a blend of 45% Syrah with 45% Grenache and 10% Rolle grapes, the winemaking employs an unusually complex and precise technique based on the blending of three base wines: one fermented on the lees in stainless steel, another fermented in oak and another in concrete vats.

This is a wine of great depth and complexity with intense notes of peach, pineapple and exotic fruits on the nose, and just a hint of vanilla. In the mouth, it is full and rounded with solid acidity and a light tannic structure, the fruits carrying through to a long and intense finish. A wine to enjoy with good food such as grilled seafood or mildly spicy fish or chicken dishes.

Also available at Apolónia, from the same producer, is the more accessibly priced Le Pas du Moine, a lighter and fresher wine that at €15.95 compares favourably to some of the other posh pink in the €20 price range.

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]